Philippines, China to address 'irritants' through bilateral mechanisms: Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 29 2019 06:07 PM | Updated as of Apr 29 2019 06:27 PM

Philippines, China to address 'irritants' through bilateral mechanisms: Palace 1
President Rodrigo Duterte receives a warm welcome from China President Xi Jinping prior to the start of the Leaders' Roundtable Discussion of the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at the Yanqi Lake International Convention Center on April 27, 2019. Presidential Photo

MANILA -- The Philippines and China will address "irritants" in disputed waters using bilateral mechanisms, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said Monday.

Duterte informed his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, of the "irritants" during their bilateral meeting in Beijing last week, on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

The "irritants" refer to "everything there - from the presence of the ships, from the alleged harassment, he said.

"Both of them (Duterte and Xi) agree that the mechanism of bilateral relations will be used to resolve the conflict," Panelo said. 

Panelo earlier said Duterte specifically discussed the situation in Pag-asa Island during the latter's meeting with Xi. Chinese ships have been reported near Pag-asa, the largest Filipino-held island in the Spratlys.

The Chinese leader reportedly told Duterte during their meeting that Beijing does not recognize Manila's victory in a United Nations-backed arbitral court.

The ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated China's sweeping claims over the vital waterway.

Panelo said China remained "open" to talks given both leaders agreed to resolve the issue through bilateral means.

"Both sides repeated their previous position on the matter and they both agree na whatever irritants or challenges, pag-usapan natin sa (let's talk about it in the) negotiations," Panelo added.

Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana earlier said Duterte and Xi agreed to deal with rising maritime tensions between the Philippines and China through "peaceful, diplomatic" means.

"The basic consensus is although we proceed with some differences, these can be resolved through peaceful, diplomatic means. And the Chinese side expressed the willingness in the interest of friendship and cooperation to address some of the issues we have raised," Sta. Romana said.